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07-26-2009, 07:42 PM   #1
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Newbie with too much camera....

I am, for the most part, new to DSLR and just picked up a K20D. My primary reason was to start taking "quality" pictures of my kid over what a typical P&S can deliver. My challenge is that for now all my pics of him are pretty much indoors due to his young age. I also can't pick him up and move him around to find the right spot with better light because he might start fussing or the wife will start going nuts if I start moving him and his play mats all over the place.

1. Poor light
2. Twitchy kid
3. Newbie behind the camera

So, for now, I keep playing around with the preset modes, but have had the best luck with AV. I also have found that if I use the flash, he gets a bit too whited out looking. If I don't use the flash, then I sometimes get a little blur from him twitching (slow shutter)

For my situation, what would be the best mode to shoot in? TV?

I have a kit lens, but the one I used for this was a Tamron 17-35 f2.8

I wish I could just get to the point where I look at a scene/situation and know what mode I should shoot in, what aperture, shutter speed, and iso I need to be at to get the best results. Right now, I feel like an idiot because I will just start shooting the same object in every mode and start adjusting the e-dials until I find the one that gives me the best results. I understand that it is a give and take relationship between key variables, but I just seem a bit overwhelmed at this point with so many different variations to get to the same mean.

07-26-2009, 07:58 PM   #2
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41ants: LOL. I have been there and done that. If you think your child twitches now, wait till he walks/runs! In the shot you posted, you could simply place a white sheet over the window to soften the light. Increase your ISO to get a faster shutter speed if necessary. Try not to use a flash with small children as it can be hard on their retinas. As far as mode, of course read the manual for details. But pick a mode that works for you. There are many ways to get the same exposure. You just have to figure which is more intuitive for your style. Av is a good mode. experiment with the different configurations in the custom profile to see which works for you.

BTW, you did a great job getting down the the child's level. Much nicer than shooting down, IMHO.

Good Luck
07-26-2009, 08:09 PM   #3
Damn Brit

That one looks pretty good to me you idiot.

Nice and sharp where it needs to be, windows a bit blown out but that's not an issue for shots like these. You shot this one at 17mm, it's nice to get up close but you are using a zoom, you could pull back a bit.
Indoors is tough, you need a wider aperture for the light but that gives you an increasingly shallower DOF. Play around with Av and Tav modes and try setting Auto ISO from 100 - 800.If you try too many settings, you'll never get a handle on any of them.
You can try stuff like hanging a white sheet out of frame to reflect and increase the light.
DON'T use the flash, that's child cruelty, it startles them and hurts their eyes.
Do the moving around when your wife isn't there, I have a five week old and I'm finding that I am more tolerant of the baby crying because the emotional bond isn't as strong as it is between mother and baby. I'm also finding that baby can be calmer when mother is away because there's no smell of milk to start the baby off.
07-26-2009, 08:21 PM   #4
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I'll try to make this concise.

0. Read the entire manual!
1. Kit lenses are typically horrible for low-light photography, unless the store makes kits with lenses packing F2.8 constant apertures or faster.
2. I really like that shot of your kid, it's very cute, the setting, and the kid too. Trust me, this is a supreme compliment, as I hate kids! So that Tamron is doing something for you... To be precise, the Tamron allows you more creative freedom because it's a fast zoom lens.
3. Whenever I'm not using a lightmeter and setting shutter and aperture manually, I'm always in Av mode. I suggest if you can, keep to it, as it allows you the greatest expression of creativity in terms of depth of field. The same can be argued for shutter speeds, but that's for long exposures or light trails, and I'm sure those aren't your priorities.
4. If the Av or Tv modes are confusing, try that Pentax-only mode where you set aperture and shutter speed and the camera compensates by adjusting the ISO. I don't own a Pentax, so I'm not sure what it's called (PAv/TAv?), but this situation is a good example of the usefulness that feature offers.
5. Consider investing money in a fast prime (non-zoom) lens. By fast, I mean something faster than F2.0. I recommend focal lengths between 28-50mm. The "normal" focal length for an APS-C camera is 28mm.
6. If you can't get a lens, consider a hotshoe flash. These are great! They fire auto-focus assist light patterns, are much more powerful than built-in flashes, don't cause red-eye (as they are much further from the eye-lens axis), and most importantly to you: you can bounce it off the ceiling or wall. This will provide you with softer, more natural looking lighting. It will also keep your child from looking like Michael Jackson (too soon?). *Also, if you don't require power, auto-focus assist lights, or bouncing, you can prevent your kid from looking blown-out by adjusting the flash compensation into the negative.

Last edited by mischivo; 07-26-2009 at 10:16 PM.
07-26-2009, 09:31 PM   #5
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for a newbie, you were able to produce a very decent shot. I do commend you for that. believe me, I have seen far worse photos (not saying yours was ugly, lol) coming from a lot of neophyte dslr owners with excellent lenses.

I would suggest that you read the manual first and get to familiarize with the camera's capabilities. well, even for a person like me who had handled previous dslrs, I just feel the need to read the manual book. believe me, everything becomes relatively easy after reading the manual, even if you had jumped from a P&S cam.
07-27-2009, 04:37 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Damn Brit Quote
That one looks pretty good to me you idiot.
DON'T use the flash, that's child cruelty, it startles them and hurts their eyes.
That's only true for direct flash. Indirect flash (bouncing off the ceiling or walls) combined with the use of ambient light as main source works great and doesn't hurt the child.
07-27-2009, 05:02 AM   #7
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Yes a decent shot there.
Be assured that as you continue taking pictures and getting more comfortable with the camera, good captures become less and less a result of luck. Skill does tend to set in, and with a little luck you have a lot more winners!
Taking your own kid is challenging, but keeping the baby entertained gives you the best chance of eye contact and smiling.
Keep shooting!
07-27-2009, 08:06 AM   #8
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Original Poster
Thanks for the pointers. This one picture was probably the one I liked best out of the 30 that I took of him within 5 minutes.

Yes, the manual has been my bedside reading material a few times over the past couple of weeks and it has a dedicated place in my camera/laptop travel bag.

I sort of have a working vacation in vegas in 2 weeks and I plan on bringing the camera to get some shots of the strip. The manaul will be my dedicated in flight reading material.

07-27-2009, 08:11 AM   #9
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I agree, nice shot. You're doing a lot right already - in particular, using a faster lens than the kit.

As for exposure mode, it relly doesn't matter. That's just a means to an end - the end being the selection of the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. There might be a "best" combination of those three exposure parameters for a given shot, but you can achieve that combintion using any mdoe if you understand how they work. So step one is to learn how those parameters relate and what effect they have - any book on photographic technique should explain that. Once you grasp the essentials of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, you can choose any mode you want and still get the results you wish. Until then, frankly, you're best off in Green mode (or P mode), which will try to do the "right" things and will probably succeed better / more often than someone who doesn't really understand exposure yet. Shooting in either Av or Tv mode without knowing what results you are trying to achieve is very likely to yield bad results; Green mode rather less so. The only manual overrirde you need to mess with at first is exposure compensation, so if you see a picture is too light or too dark, you can alter that for the next shot, and the camera will accomplish that by the "best" method.
07-27-2009, 11:00 AM   #10
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Like everyone else has said, you did a nice job taking the image to start with. I agree that a bounce flash could be useful in a situtation like this; however, another option would be to tweak the image a little in post processing to get the most out of the light source you have.

With a tighter crop and cloning out any residual window, the single light source can be very dramatic in the final print.

07-27-2009, 01:09 PM   #11
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Try to practice with the camera in "non-critical" situations and play with the settings one by one to see what things do. You have to be systematic about it or you will end up going around in circles. Also, read up as much as you can and keep testing.

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